Boeing employees will still be able to perform some safety scans on the company’s plane, but for three more years instead of the five-year extension the company has requested, federal regulators have determined.
Federal Aviation Administration officials indicated Tuesday that the agency’s decision on safety-related work was designed to keep a closer eye on Boeing.
Under rules in place for more than a decade, employees of aircraft manufacturing companies may be designated to perform certain tasks for the FAA. That practice came under increased scrutiny after two deadly crashes involving Boeing 737 Max planes and allegations that Boeing employees misled regulators about a key flight system on the planes.
Boeing’s ability to do that job for the FAA expired Tuesday.
In a letter to Boeing, an FAA safety official said a three-year renewal was “more appropriate” than a five-year extension.
“There are multiple job improvements that the FAA would like to assess within the Boeing organization over the next three years,” Ian Won, interim manager of the FAA office that oversees Boeing, told the company.
The list of items the FAA wants Boeing to complete in the next three years includes ensuring employees helping the FAA are protected from pressure from company managers and making sure Boeing quickly corrects any problems it finds.
Boeing issued a statement that read in full: “As always, we are committed to working transparently with the FAA through its detailed and rigorous oversight processes.”
The FAA also said that its inspectors, and not Boeing employees, will remain responsible for issuing the final safety certificates for all new Boeing 737 Max and 787 planes that roll off the company’s assembly lines. That was a step taken in November 2019, during a 19-month grounding of the Max following crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 people.
Deliveries of the 787, which Boeing calls the Dreamliner, have been halted for most of the past two years due to a series of production problems. That’s starving Boeing of cash, because buyers typically pay a large portion of the purchase price for planes at delivery.
This story has been updated to correct the year the FAA assumed full responsibility for issuing safety certificates for Boeing 737 Max and 787 aircraft. It was November 2019, not 2020.